For the past two weeks, I’ve heard non-stop praise for Taylor Swift’s newest album, “Midnights,” and I just don’t understand it. She’s claimed all 10 top spots on The Billboard Top 100, and broke Spotify’s record for most streams in a single day. This album did that?
Don’t get me wrong, I love Taylor Swift as much as the next person. Middle school Emma listened to “Speak Now” like it was the basis of her personality, and in high school I played “1989” and “reputation” around the house so much my father still occasionally asks me “how is Taylor doing?” like she’s part of the family.
Is Taylor Swift a pop icon? Yes. Is she a shrewd businesswoman and talented performer? Yes. Is she the idol of two generations (both millennials and Gen Z)? Yes. Has she written wonderful music before? Yes.
Is “Midnights” living up to the hype? Well…
Coming in at thirteen tracks, Swift’s album is the musical equivalent of a trending book you picked up, read and then wondered why it was topping the lists. You didn’t hate it, but you didn’t see the appeal either.
In her own words, Swift is telling the story of “thirteen sleepless nights.” Well, at least the title makes sense. But for such a potentially emotional album, I was left disappointed by both the lyrics and production.
In “Anti-Hero,” one of the fan favorites on the album, the chorus presents the most blunt line ever: “It’s me! Hi/ I’m the problem, it’s me.” Fans are raving about her lyricism; I looked up “Taylor Swift Midnights” on Twitter, and the top five posts were all about her genius and how well she can craft a song and how deep her lyrics are.
“It’s like snow at the beach/ weird but f****** beautiful” from “Snow On The Beach (feat. Lana del Rey).” This is the lyrical genius? I simply cannot understand how people are praising all the ‘meaning’ behind her songs while the actual songs themselves could be taken straight from my high school diary.
Now, I don’t want to come across too harsh. Swift pulls off some lyrical meaning in “Lavender Haze” where she addresses the media obsession over her relationships. “Bejeweled” is a defiant song against relationships that drain your confidence. Swift has pockets in her album that make me snap my fingers and want to root for her in every and any circumstance.
The problem is that Taylor Swift talks about herself so much in this album that I lose the music, and I think she does too.
No song on this album has me jamming along. No melody gets stuck in my head. At no point do I really feel moved on any level, and the music itself comes across as fairly bland. I had high expectations and was disappointed by songs that lacked inspiration, emotion, or even a decent tune. How could such a talented songwriter fail to write even one song that made me feel something?
“Maroon” should be renamed “Beige” because of how neutral the melody is. “Mastermind” had potential, but like most of the other songs on the album, it came across as flat and frankly, uninteresting to listen to. There was nothing distinguishing about it, and my ears couldn’t find anything to grab onto. It wasn’t a bad song, per se, but it was nothing close to what I’d expect from Swift.
I know the position of “but her old stuff was better!” is a tired, cliche one, but it’s the one I’m taking. I was so excited for this album, and it let me down hard. I’m turning back to her old stuff for comfort.
The tracks from “Midnights” blend together, and none really stand out (kind of like Lana del Rey’s feature). I want to make it clear: the album isn’t bad, but it isn’t her best work and I’m shocked at how people are raving about it.
Taylor Swift isn’t going to make more music like she did ten years ago. I have to accept that, and I’m going to do my best to not let it color my opinion of the stuff she makes going forward. I’m still listening to “Midnights” and I’m enjoying a few of the tracks, bopping along to them in the car or nodding my head at Target as I try on yet another sweater that’s way more cropped than I first thought.
I’ll let the rest of the world fawn over a decent-ish album and will hold my enchantment for when “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” finally drops.